Truths All Good Christians Must Know (and its many myths that should be addressed)

<>
( FOR CHRISTIANS ONLY )

It is almost two decades now I have distanced myself from church. And I have my reasons. I don’t easily fall in line, I can’t conform to rites and rituals, and I have always been an individualist. I am in direct contrast to what others regard as a faithful follower. And I did not know God through the church. Thus, with or without church, my faith did not wane. And my ember did not diminish like an isolated coal they told me it would. But one thing did happen though. After I have turned away from church , not even a single soul from church has ever called me, nor say hello. And it’s been twenty years since. I won’t second guess their erratic behaviour not that I am bothered. But I was given the impression that there’s a line that segregates believers who goes to church, and those who don’t, or have left. They use a term for out-standing characters like me. I’m known as a ‘lapsed Catholic’. For whatever that means. And I think they feel better to be able to classify me so as to tell me that I am not one of them. Also, don’t go to them if I needed any favours. If it is a science lab, they would have placed me inside a jar and labelled ‘heretic specimen.’
“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind…” (Romans 14:1-23)

Personally, I believe that faith is a journey. And to each, our own. This journey of mine had me hover over and under the pews- where once I was inside the church looking out, now, I’m on aerial view, looking in. I am particularly appalled by those who easily succumb to authority and be led by the nose, and others who tacitly sandwiched fear in-between the bread of life. These are the majority which makes up the congregation- an adulterated version of the ‘Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ’ and of the ‘Temple of Solomon’, also known as the ‘Order of Solomon’s Temple’, or the ‘Knights Templar’ – defenders of faith who would fight tooth and grit with anyone who doubts that their God is the greatest. How ironical. But if their God is the greatest, why then do they fear?
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7)

For out-standing souls like me, please be enlightened. It’s a privilege to recce God’s garden and circumambulate one full circle while others are still caught up inside. Without being given the ladder to scale over, one may not understand what the opposing scenery looks like, to make informed opinions. Unlike me who have a full macro view uninterrupted. I’d rather enjoy the fresh air and be caught trespassing, than paying blind obeisance to what the church wanted us to believe in.

The Words of God are simple and straightforward. Yet many lack depth to scour its grace and wisdom. And true discipleship calls for individuals to give up everything and follow him. Yet I wonder how many denominations still observe this faithfully?
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” (Matthew 23:23-24)
“So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple”. (Luke 14:33)
“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”(Mark 10:21).
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.” (1 John 2:15)

Throughout those years in church, I have encountered the most obstinate of believers. Those in true hypocrisy who worships the strangest, those who pray to prey, and those who gossips the fiercest. And to those lost sheeps forever looking for signs and wonders to affirm their faith, I now have the unfortunate unpleasant chore to respond to, their myopic perception of God. I am no biblical scholar, a behavioural scientist nor a theologian. But if everyone were to take a step backwards tying everything we know to the basics of love, we could be seeing happier days ahead, than feeling somber, anticipating the final hours of God’s arrival any sooner. Like everybody else, I dread to be misled. Because one day, those misled may be preaching on the pulpit.
“I may be able to speak the languages of men and even of angels, but if I do not have love, I will sound like noisy brass. If I have the gift of speaking God’s Word and if I understand all secrets, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I know all things and if I have the gift of faith so I can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give everything I have to feed poor people and if I give my body to be burned, but do not have love, it will not help me.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
“Love does not give up. Love is kind. Love is not jealous. Love does not put itself up as being important. Love has no pride. Love does not do the wrong thing. Love never thinks of itself. Love does not get angry. Love does not remember the suffering that comes from being hurt by someone. Love is not happy with sin. Love is happy with the truth. Love takes everything that comes without giving up. Love believes all things. Love hopes for all things. Love keeps on in all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Inside every church are always some delusional Jim Jones in the making. Hallucinators who beckoned they have earned wings- believing themselves to be God’s chosen gate-keeper or messenger of some kind. All because they have managed to garner some followers. Indeed they have. Retirees, pensioners, the golden age club and sinners whom resorted to the church hoping for some form of redemption or free entertainment to kill time. And so these hallucinators seek God inside the pages of the Old Testament without knowing it’s relevance, reviving worship and dance like David did without knowing its significance, arrived at the gates of the New Testament without mastering the Beatitudes, and back they went again to the drama of the Old Testament, preferring the authoritarian and punitive God than the forgiving one. And that is how, like a warrant officer, they stick their noses into every cadets butt, faulting everyone else’s conduct and private business thus giving unconditional love a brand new meaning by inserting them with multitudes of decree. Didn’t they know any better? That the veil had been broken?
“And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Mark 15:38)
“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God…” (Hebrews 10:19-22)

The most unfortunate amongst these characters may I emphasise again, are these ‘fault finders’- backdoor Warrant Officers who could uncover sin everywhere, under every stone and carpet, except for their own backyard. These characters could see no wrong in themselves, and shows no contrite- comfortably forgetting the speck in their own eyes and forgetting that the Lord is first and foremost, “an all forgiving God”.
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Matthew 6:4)
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
“But if you do not forgive others their sins,
your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6: 15)

Next are the ‘fence builders’ – those who thought that God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit belongs exclusively to believers only and no one else, thus disassociating themselves from the marginalised, the destitute, the underprivileged and the non-believers. They too tasked themselves to build wedges between believers and their loved ones of different faiths, urging them to stay away from customs, traditions, conjugal and funeral rites because they believe it is better not offend their jealous God than to embrace love for their own family. Doesn’t these individuals understand that “the greatest is love”? (1 Corinthians 13:13). How then are they “to go forth and multiply” (Genesis 9:1) and “make disciples of all generations” (Matthew 28:18-20), having decided that building boundaries, fences, wedges, and cages is amiable?
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8)

Then, there are the ‘fear mongers’. Individuals whom instead of believing and emphasising the glory and majesty of the almighty God whom created the world, believed more in abominations and the harsh punishment meted by God, thus allowing evil to manifest. These individuals spread fear and are scared of everything under the sun, maybe their own shadows even. Imagine the damage they could cause up on the pulpit, spinning confusion in the minds of catechumens at a time when they were taught forgiveness, more so when their faith journey is still at it’s infancy? The fear of the darkness, death, other gods, mythological creatures, traditions and customs, is unnecessary because they are but little elements that makes up the colourful world, if you believe in the all powerful God that is.
“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” (1 John 4:18)
One should thus, not shift one’s focus from the God of kindness and compassion, towards darkness, garbage and filth, thereby reducing God’s brilliance, radiance, magnificence and significance whom they will ironically fight tooth and nail to claim that He is the most coveted of all Gods when ridiculed. The Crusaders did severe damage to the Christian world. They went on to wage war using Jesus’s mighty name not knowing our God is all for peace? And whatever happened to the God “whom created the world and everything inside it?” (Genesis 1 & 2) which means everything good or bad belongs to the kingdom of God?

And then, there are in our midst the ‘divine hallucinators’- preachers whose madness grew in tandem with their hallucination. These are the individuals who claim to have seen god, raised the dead and boasts of converting tens of thousands of people into the faith within a few years. Oh really?!
“Some could not resist “letting their right hand know what their left hand is doing” (Matthew 6:3-4)
“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)
It is obvious error if these divine preachers doesn’t realise that those who stood inside rallies are in some ways or another, have been touched by the Holy Spirit? And if these hallucinators could raise the dead, they would have made headlines by now and kidnapped by the intelligence to do just that. Raise the dead!
In the bible, except for Moses and Isaiah, no one could have claimed to have seen God.
“No man hath seen God” (John 1:18) (1 John 4:12)
“God is spirit, a form of life which is invisible to the naked eye” (1 John 1:17), (John 4:24).
“God can be seen directly by angels because they are spirit creatures” (Matthew 18:10)
“No one can see me and stay alive” (Exodus 33:20)
And it was written that Moses had once saw the “angel of God as a flame” (Exodus 3:1-10), and besides this, God’s back, because God allows him to.
“Then I will take my hand away, and you will see my back but not my face” (Exodus 33:23). Isaiah on the other hand, has physically seen God.
“I saw the Lord. He was sitting on his throne, high and exalted, and his robe filled the whole temple.” (Isaiah 6:1)
“And yet with my own eyes, I have seen the King, the Lord Almighty“ (Isaiah 6:5).
In the Book of 2 Enoch (rejected by the Jewish and withdrawn from the Christian bible), Enoch at age 365, was taken to heaven, and managed to see God in the seventh and tenth heaven. The seventh, was from a distance, the tenth, face to face.
In (1 Kings 19:11-23), Elijah who was transported to heaven in a flaming chariot has not seen God but has spoken with God. Many prophets like Elijah has also had visions of God including Ezekiel, and many have engaged in conversations with Him.
One may argue that everyone who had seen Jesus during his thirty-three years on earth hath seen God, since the bible has surmised that God, the Son and Holy Spirit are infinitely one, while we as mortals are also “made in his own image and likeness” (Genesis 1:26-27), but then again, no one has ever seen God “in all His divine glory and holiness except in his human condition”, where he veils himself to be amongst us, appearing in the form of Jesus. The question is, do we really need to see God to believe he existed?
“Blessed are those who has not seen me, and yet had believed’”? (John 20:29)

There is clearly a distinction between God’s kingdom and the kingdom we lived in as Jesus himself clearly stated in front of Pontius Pilate. And because his kingdom is not of this world, so are his blessings and gifts of the spiritual kind.
“My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” (John 18:36)
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)
But with these seven gifts- wisdom, understanding, right judgement, courage, knowledge, reverence, wonder in awe of God’s presence (Isaiah 11:2-3), doth every believer, some with more gifts than others, were giventh unwarranted blessings which serves as a springboard for discipleship. Inside the scriptures, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are the roots of the tree, and the fruits of the Holy Spirit are, the fruits of that tree. And if we are led by the Spirit and open to God’s gifts, the fruits of the Holy Spirit will be evident in our lives- the virtues of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22) And the harvest would be aplenty.
Where blessings are concern, God has generously reminded believers to
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and it’s righteousness, and all things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33)
“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.” (Psalm 20:4)
“The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it.” (Proverbs 10:22)
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” (Romans 12:14)
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
The reason why I broach this subject is because of the numerous request for intercession of the greedy kind. Healing from certain sicknesses, illnesses or diseases is understandable but praying for bigger houses? reveals a lack of understanding of the kind of blessings God has in store for us because God has never specifically mentioned wealth as a guarantee for our unceasing faith except to Solomon. And God too specifically asked of us to bless those who persecute us. Can you?
So, it is indeed a misnomer to assume that when a person is endowed with good looks, power, fame or fortune, or born with it, that means God is well pleased with him- therefore blessing him with direct tangible advantage, greatness, influence, and wealth over others. And those who don’t is not in God’s favour. From the scriptures, it is very clear that God shows no impartiality. Moreover, Jesus himself was born poor. Rather, there are many instances where God expresses his concerns about material gain particularly the means in which wealth is gained, and how the love for money could easily distract the rich from entering the kingdom of god. That is one of the mortal sins which could not be pardoned . Mortal sins identified by the church includes homicide, abortion, infanticide, fratricide, patricide, and matricide, sodomy, oppression of the poor and injustice to the wage earner.
“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6:10)
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)
“Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to give to God what belongs to God”(Mark 12:17).
“He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10-12)

The perception of Idolatry also needs to be addressed. It is one of the primary divides between the Protestants and Catholics. Idolatry in primeval times has everything to do with animism and pagan worshipping. Animism encompasses the beliefs that all material phenomena have agency, that there exists no categorical distinction between the spiritual and physical world, and that soul, spirit exists not only in humans, but also in animals, plants, rocks, geographic features or other entities of the natural environment- water sprites, vegetation deities, tree spirits etc. In the early days, pointing to the empty sky is not enough. Understanding the concept of God requires objectification and thus, megaliths, trees as gods and statues were commonplace. Even in the medieval era, objectification was needed to completely understand the concept of God, hence the many icons, statues and frescoes in temple and home surrounds created for adoration, as commemoration or plain hero worshipping the almighty, just like the many coins minted in Byzantium (395CE -1453AD) which depicts the image of Jesus.
In biblical days, idolatry arises from a personal disdain of the jealous god, Yahweh who was worshipped alongside a female deity, Mother Goddess known as Asherah. Asherah was hypothetically Yahweh’s wife (and the wife of other Gods as well). But Asherah’s shrines were everywhere, more popular than Yahweh’s. And they were also found besides Yahweh’s shrines. Yahweh found that upsetting, calls every child who worships him and her together, a whore, and called for its destruction.
“You shall not plant any tree as an Asherah beside the altar of the Lord your God that you shall make.” (Deuteronomy 16:21)
“When the men of the town rose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built.” (Judges 6:28)
“And they abandoned all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made for themselves metal images of two calves; and they made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal.” (2Kings 17:16)
“And I will root out your Asherah images from among you and destroy your cities.” (Micah 5:14)
In today’s context, idolatry is something one indulges in, does excessively out of habit or an obsession which affects one’s duty and obligation towards God and family. And for as long as the fetishism, obsession and habit does not interfere with one’s duty and belief, it is not considered abomination. Therefore, the display and collection of statues, figurines, religious paraphernalia, relics, including prayer verses hung at home. How so ?
Because reverence or piety happens to be one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. And piety brings one back to one’s own origin. Piety has everything to do with obedience, respect and paying homage to one’s ascendant, with ‘God as head of the family’, therefore, not unless one prays to a different God, or neglects his own God, is his actions considered idolatry.

There exists a great disparity of opinions concerning other matters. And I for one do not succumb to makeshift authority, with each fraternity forming their own doctrine and preference, especially those who curtail our good sense and empathy towards others in need. As God’s children, good sense must always prevail. The gift of wisdom is imbued within us to discern and surmise each opinion, not forgetting the gift of courage to correct the wrong, no matter how little or many followers the other party has. We should be glad indeed for the gift of knowledge and the larger brains we, as earthlings, are endowed with. For if not, we could not have reigned dominion over all the other creatures on the earth. Each of us should be bright enough to discern between right from wrong, good from bad, godly from evil, shallow from deep, clean from dirty, and healthy from the sickly. And to process every bit of information thrown at us- whether they are relevant and applicable in today’s context, measured against the values of love, forgiveness and kindness.
But humans are born sinners and our fallibility began with the ‘Original Sin’ as was committed by Adam, and because by that one incident, as expressed by St Augustine, no one is spared from falling into the abyss of doom.
The church has clearly defined three types of sin- Mortal sins, Venial sins and Cardinal sins. But sin is what you do which inconvenience or causes harm to others. One can arrive at what kind of sin was committed, by asking the following three questions:
1. Did the act involve a grave matter?
2. Was the act committed with full knowledge of the wrongdoing that had been done in the act?
3. Was the act done with full consent of the will?
If all three questions are answered in the affirmative, the criteria for a mortal sin have been met. If any one of the three questions is answered in the negative, only the criteria for a venial sin have been met. And Venial Sins is easily forgivable unlike mortal sins. Mortal sins are unforgivable and may I repeat that which includes homicide, abortion, infanticide, fratricide, patricide, and matricide, sodomy, oppression of the poor and injustice to the wage earner. In the Catholic context, forgiveness would entail:
1. Acts of Contrition – feeling sorrowful
2. Disclosure – confide to God
3. Penance – doing something eg. reciting of prayers to make amends for it.
St Paul mentions that when we sin, we need not fear that we are condemned by God and that there is no more justification and grace we deserve. God’s relationship with us is not broken unless or until we deliberately and irrevocably sever it by ‘moving away’ from God. There is also no such thing as flipping between grace and penalty. Believers ‘have and always been’ in the state of grace.
“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12)
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
“And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.” (Genesis 8:21)
“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5)
“Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20)
“But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7)
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)
There are seven types of cardinal sin. Lust, greed, gluttony, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. Most of these sins with the sole exception of sloth, are perverse or corrupt versions of love for something or another: lust, gluttony, and greed are all excessive or disordered love of good things; sloth is a deficiency of love; wrath, envy, and pride are perverted love directed toward other’s harm. Sins from lust to envy are generally associated with pride, which has been labeled as the ‘Father of all sins.’
I will not dwell in detail all the cardinal sins except for one which is lust, which in general, is the least understood but the one believers are most interested in which explains the increase in popularity of porn sites. This deserves some attention because most preachers direct them to sexual innuendos. However, it is not so. Lust, or ‘lechery’ is intense longing, and is ‘usually’ thought of as intense or unbridled sexual desire which ‘may’ lead to fortification including adultery, rape, bestiality and other sinful sexual acts. However, lust also means unbridled desire in general; the lust for money, power, and other things are equally as sinful.
Lust is also thought to be of the least serious of cardinal sins as it is an abuse of a faculty that humans share with animals, and sins of the flesh are ‘less grievous’ than spiritual sins eg. turning away from God.
*But do not despair for there exists restitution for sins. For no sin is unpardonable, except for mortal sins and that is the promise of God.
“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)
“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.” (Micah 7:18)
“And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” (Matthew 12:31)

So spare me! But prohibitions from drinking, smoking, cohabiting and generously offering lifts to members of the opposite sex are but menial and should not be amplified if they happen in moderation, is consensual, and done with pure intentions. Again, sin is what you do which inconveniences or cause harm to others. Believers always like to stress that our body is the temple of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 6:19) Yes, I don’t disagree nor doubt that a temple is not a sacred place. Therefore for health reasons, we need to safeguard it from abuse. And a healthy body broods a healthy mindset. This has everything to do with the boundaries we set for ourselves but not an ultimatum or imposition which comes with disparaging penalty only the jealous heart that lobbies for punitive sentencing hopes for.
“I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12)
Remember, Jesus himself turned water into wine, the first of his first miracle.
“The Wedding at Cana” (John 2:1-11)
Thus I am certain the entire community or country need not be penalised- putting the brakes on taxi services, school-buses and co-ed schooling since every good person is assumed to have the tendency to let their throbbing manhood rule over faith, decency, integrity and good judgement.
And who are we to deprive singles or separated couples no longer in love the probity of happiness in cohabiting?
As Christians, we must believe that everything comes from God who made the day as well as nights, and rain as well as sunshine (Genesis 1 & 2). And as Christians, we should not be paranoid and prohibit everything, frightening ourselves and disassociating ourselves from unpleasant situations, when caring for our community is part of our social responsibility.

So, do not simply believe in what others say or do blindly, for fear of being chastised, worse, made unpopular because we happened to be more inquisitive than others. The gift of courage, one of the seven gifts of the holy spirit, encourages us to be bold and stand our ground.
“And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely; for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” (Luke 16:8)
Likewise, it is not about how many times we have read the bible from beginning till end, but about our contrite heart and how much we understand about charity and learnt from it. And to all the ‘doubting Thomases’ whose glory rests on tangible proofs and miracles they witness during faith healing, my concern is what if one day God decided to take away everything and there is no longer any miracles to perform that you can see with your own eyes, would they be as faithful to God, or would they moved on to other faiths? Seriously, I want to know.
“Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe… “ (John 20:24-29)

Maybe God doesn’t deserve me or I don’t deserve God so likewise I can’t blame the congregation for being self-absorbed. For they are the fruits of what the church teaches.
My desert experience wasn’t only forty days as Jesus had experience, but more like years cowering in fear of being stalked by the evil one whom I was told hides under the cloak of Jesus. Fact is it is just a figment of an over imaginative mind given the opportunity to lead catechumens such as me. The implications was severe and I suffered because of misinformation. No one deserves to walk that road I did long ago. And it could be prevented by addressing the misconceptions I am doing now. Thus I felt it timely to say something. Of course I can’t address all. Except those within my ability to grasp.
My concern is this . What good can a brilliant God do, armed with an army of blind, paranoid, conceited, uninformed followers whom were all assigned to stand up and fight against demons and wrongdoings?
“For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:43-45)

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

Abusing trust

“Most women teaches their female friends to always be on guard throughout their nuptial ties so that they do become a victim of betrayal, if it ever does happen.
To me, that only means that you probably don’t know what love is about or ever truly loved your partner, with all the mistrust that is happening.
Now why do I say so?
Because love is after all blind!
And if you’re not one who is blinded, probably there’s never so much as a thing called “love” to begin with!
Be proud that you are blinded, because love is when two souls are bonded in holy matrimony and became one. And thus, you are required to perform your vows as a single entity by sharing and giving to one another. That is also the moment of truth when you realise that you are one person who is capable of giving fully your heart to love. That you trust the other person completely. That’s what love is about. And that’s what God wants, nevermind what others say.
And if you do not know how to love another fully and give your complete trust to your partner, but follow your friends advice and remain cautious, then, I’m sorry but you are better off single. So is your friend. Than to cheat your partner for a lifetime with that barricade of mistrust forever looming in the shadow of your union.
Yes, unfortunate things do happen in relationships if you do not follow your friends advice. But whatever it is, just regard it as your partner’s loss for abusing your trust and failing to see through your well-meaninged intentions and generosity by giving fully your love towards the relationship.”

Kuih Bangkit

‘Kuih Bangkit’ my personal favourite Chinese New Year cookie, enjoys the same popularity with the Malay communities during Hari Raya, and particularly those from Riau in Indonesia, and the Baba Nyonya communities of Malacca, Penang and Singapore. Bangkit which means “rise” in Bahasa, traditionally has a little red dot tipped on the body (which turns pink when mixed with the flour), on each piece of the Nyonya version. And these pieces were usually of animal form — Goldfishes, Chickens, etc. casted from wooden moulds then baked.

This peculiarity of consecrating objects with red dots, is ceremonial, and has its belief rooted in Taoism. For it was believed that these red dots would bring man-made objects to life, hence it is with the annual initiation of the Lion and Dragon Dance by their troupes, and the paper effigies burnt for the deceased during funerals. Taoist mediums also dispenses yellow paper blessings written with red ink, or blood splatterings from their tongues, when in trance-like state. Believers would then burnt them, throw them into a glass of water, and drink from it, as divine panacea.

This shared delicacy probably has its roots all over the archipelago, the result of harmonious communal living, and the intermarriages between the two races, the Chinese with the Malay in the Straits, from whence resulted the Baba and Nyonya community.

Game of Kalituay

  • Kalituay is a home grown game, fun and lively, played between two opposing teams. It’s origin can be disputed, but it has been played both in the kampongs as well as the city.

It demands the players to be agile with their eyes, swift with their reach, yet nimble on their legs and to win, and the running team should not be caught by the catching team.

The running team must compromise through each of the compartments from line 1 till line 4 and back to line 1 without being caught, hit, touched or slapped by anyone from the catching team.

A perfect run through scores 4 points for the running team. And deducted accordingly if one or more members are caught.

There are three sets for each opposing team, taking turns to be the runner as well as the catcher, and the team that scores highest in the run through without being caught wins the game.

Usually the court size will determine the number of people needed on one team and on a normal scale, a badminton court is ideal with each player from the catching side standing on lines 1,2,3 and 4 as guards. Only the player standing on line 1 is allowed to run up and down the spine and catch, touch, hit or slap any unsuspecting runner that lingers on its spine.

The game begins with both sides getting ready and one runner and the first catcher slapping their palms.

A referee can be appointed to dispute a hit.

(Image outsourced without permission)

Burnt Sand

The seabirds have flown

The grasses have turned brown

What are we but burnt sand

If hearts that bind no longer shine

But wilt in the golden meadow.

~ Strange Occurrences 2 ~

Out of the few places I have ever lived, Fidelio Street was the most memorable. That was way back in 1981-2. We moved into that scruffy one story terrace link which was once occupied by my 3rd Ee but now has become my 2nd auntie’s abode. As a tagger, she gave me a room at the very end which in those days I believe was the utility. She didn’t inform me earlier that we are moving off from Joo Chiat Road, till very late and when I found myself there, she told me that her whole family is going back to Penang for Chinese New Year leaving her 3rd daughter Janice who works as an assistant manager at a fast food restaurant alone with me.

.

If my memory serves me right, I couldn’t leave because exams was drawing near and I was catching up on some late assignments I think. Janice is today Dennis by the way after having a legalised sex changed operation in Singapore. So all’s good as I remembered the new bus route I needed to take , and carried on my routine as usual. (My routine also includes my daily diversion to Orchard Road to meet my outside friends. Rich spoilt kids but really a few of the most endearing people I have ever met).

.

On the first night, I found myself alone after unlocking the gate, then the main door and back to my tiny ‘cell’. I cleaned myself up and rested on the lower deck of the double decker bed provided me, with my right side of my face exactly facing the room door. Right where my toes are is one wardrobe with its side facing me and another wardrobe facing it which is the wall of the entrance where the room sits. Thus where my torso was till my legs, there was a retro sideboard with a low table top and a large mirror. Very fashionable in those days. There I placed my talcum powder, comb, hair gel, etc. My needs were simple. As I was about to catch forty winks, I could hear the main door of the house open, then closes. By the way, between my room and the main door which is the family cum living area sat the air well and the bath stall we use with a separate water closet. But all’s good as I was expecting my cousin to be home. I could hear the footsteps walking in , but instead of stopping where her bedroom was, the steps came in nearer and nearer. She must be wanting to use the bathroom I thought but the footsteps walked right through into my room! without even opening the door! I was tensed up for a moment as the steps walked to the sideboard , and I could feel the presence of someone fiddling with my things because of the sound it made. I dare not open my eyes then because I remembered my bedroom door was a latched type kind where there was no lever on the outside!

.

My mind was racing and I closed my eyes tightly but caught myself fiddling with the blanket provided me with my toes which is at the far end of the bed. When my hands could grab it, I covered myself with it and hid under. And I was sweating profusely not because of the warmth the blanket could bring ! I was hoping for the sound to end and whoever that is to go away . It did finally, but not until I was chanting the usual ‘Amithaba’ that all Buddhist were taught of, which is a form of protection. Whilst chanting, my mind envisions a room full of strange, very distorted furnitures almost like an attic. Not long after that scene ended, in my mind, I could only see darkness. Then a door of light opens up shining brightly, then did the whole experience normalize by itself.

.

I shared this with my cousin the next morning and she was also taken aback . We agreed to a time and waited for each other at the bus stop before we walked back together each evening for about a week or so, taking turns to stake out as we bath.

.

Many years later, as I sat back with my cousins reminiscing the old days, one cousin who used to lived there with her parents recounted one moment whilst their family was at the living watching tv , her adopted brother ( hardly 5 yrs old I think) came in to tell them that there was an old lady with long hair all white waving for him to come. That happened at the air well.

.

I’m sorry I don’t have a photo of that premise.

.

END.

Strange Occurrences

This event happened many years ago when I was just backed from Singapore. Around 1987-1988?

It was late, around 1am in the morning and I was still sitting on my table doing drawings for my clients due to dateline. I was in the middle hall, with a doorway which opens to a bedroom on the left and a staircase to the right before one gets to the large living hall, then the driveway, then the gate and then, the road. The table I used to work on was oriented to face the front of this large semi detached house inside the hall with louvre windows flanking the entire length of the left wall. I was basically doing sketches when a flash of very bright lights zoom passed me across my left. I looked to the side, then looked down again, little did I pay heed. After a short while, I thought I heard a sound similar to a large iron ball rolling on the parquet flooring upstairs and because it is overhead of where I sat meaning upstairs I thought to myself that it could be a rat running across. But then the sound went diagonally from the other corner of the hall where I sat, and it rolled diagonally to the back of the hall, my behind. I didn’t quite pay heed because on my desk is a project screaming to be completed. The next minute, at the very same end, again that object rolled from behind me and went back to the same spot it first came from. On the ceiling. I didn’t think much about it but I knew it was kind of unusual and because it was late, I didn’t want to scare myself so I got up, and hurried upstairs to sleep.

At that time, living in this house was just my mom, my brother, my Ji Ku (2nd uncle), Devi, our maid and me. I was given the last room where my Tua Ku uses but he had passed away. Above the hall where I sat is another hall, then does it reaches my back room. I took a quick glanced at that space where I heard the sound from. But there was, just sitting there, a tall brass bed my grandma uses and some old furnitures. Nothing else. I went to sleep. This house actually belongs to my grandma. But not long after she passed on, the siblings agreed to sell it because business wasn’t doing well.

.

And for those who doesn’t believe in phenomenas such as this, that was quite an experience. And, it is also an unlucky house. For those who knew, that house took away two lives, my maternal grandma’s, and my Tua Ku’s ( mom’s brother), and apart from that, my granduncle’s first and second wife, though they don’t live together, all, a year apart from each other. So for four years in a row, imagine we were all wearing black. For four years, we didn’t celebrate Chinese New Year.

Mom and my 2nd auntie used to be firm believers in mediums etc and because of the string of bad luck inflicting everyone, they were told by one medium that there is something which my grandma kept which should be appropriately, in spiritual terms, sent off. So the house was bustling as they were ransacking grandma’s possessions. Grandma kept a lot of things since pre war days so the house in s way do look like an attic. And guess what they found stashed below her four poster bed? A deity (Jepun Hood) which she has not worshipped for years! Whether that was the spirit living inside the house that was disturbing everyone because of neglect, we will never know.

.

Long after we vacated this place, I asked my mom how did she end up in the room downstairs when she has her own, preferring to share a room with our maid? Because I noticed that , maybe six months before we moved out , but didn’t want to ask her earlier. She was older and I also thought it cumbersome for someone older to want to climb stairs. Only then did she relate to me that there was once she saw a big black genie choking her. And she got frightened. My younger brother, who was once occupying the front room facing the road, then joined in and told us he was once also strangled by a huge black genie. Whether or not it is the same black genie or not, that I can’t be sure. I did t get to see it. He also told us that at one time, in the middle of the night, he thought he heard a sound of chains dragging on the tar road outside so he got up to inspect it. Lo and Behold! he saw the two Chinese Guardian of Hades, the cow head and the horse face strapping and pulling a man across the road!

.

One day, I chanced upon our maid. She still oases by that house everyday because of her work commitment. She told me the night after we left, our neighbors whom she met told her they saw flashes of lights being switched on and off and the sound of what seems to be a legion of people shouting and screaming at each other. Obviously my neighbors could see everything because we share a common chain link fence.

The day when I found out that mom decided to move off from this place, I made a decision to go on my own, at the age of 24? and rented a small cubicle with its own entrance from a man whom much later became my faithful client because he generously offered me the job of designing his home where I stayed and he owns. Thus, from landlord, we too became friends after that. He told me his sister was fascinated with what I designed for him and asked if she could copy the design? So generously I said yes! without even asking for a gratuity or even asked him the location of his sisters house (although that design would have looked better with a slope access like his).

Time passes by and probably about six years later? , I went avisiting my landlord at his shop located at Chowrasta. The conversation went on and he popped the question as to where I was living before I moved into his place? He was completely overwhelmed as our conversation went one full circle to reach the doorstep of where this whole story arises, which is his sister’s home! Previously our home! (He is a Pakistani Muslim by the way)And I was relating to him this same story and experiences without realizing his sister is now occupying that house!

.

He told me his sister bought it and since then, together with the husband, they are facing financial difficulties as business is not moving as fast as it should etc etc. He told me his sister also had similar encounters but hers was different . She felt the presence of someone always following her each time she climbs up or alight from the stairs. At first she didn’t want to alert her hubby but feeling the need to engage an Imam to reconsecrate the home which they actually did before moving in, she then told him. The imam once again got the home re-blessed and recommended them to hang holy scriptures all over which they did! But still, that thing did not stop. They then tried the bomohs as a last resort. That didn’t work also. The uncanny thing is, his sisters family is still living there today.

.

A few years back when I returned to Penang and had to bypass this road, for memories sake, I had this picture taken. This was the place with the encounters.

.

But the story hasn’t ended.

.

Three to four years back, I stumbled upon my neighbor’s son who once lived next door to us. Although we don’t talk much those days and we were quite young, me around 23-24 and he was my junior, as a courtesy talk, I asked him how he and his family is, and reminiscing the old times. He told me, just what our former maid told us. He also told me of the many unrest in their house starting with his grandfather’s death and how their business empire fell. And their whole family broke up. He told me he had the house checked at the land office and through the records, there was an old (khu khar lau) bungalow on stilts that stood where the row of eight semi detached house were built on. His family also went to consult a Chinese medium who is also a seer who told them the developer did not perform the rites to appease the spirits that the land was sitting on because it was infested with many killings during the Japanese occupation period.

.

But the house still remains until this day, unperturbed , and oddly, as I thought to myself, why didn’t my former landlord’s sister moved out? The plague in front of the house is still there so I assumed they are still residing inside.

Today that property would have cost rm2mil because it has a vast backyard. We sold it for rm350k then.

But then again, for us in the know, who would want it?

.

Singapore Life

.

.

Part III

Right from the beginning, I have the inborn knack to create. Plans and elevation seems to be the only subject in mathematics I could comprehend otherwise I would have failed. My dad recognises my talent and I was even doing interior perspectives of our home that my dad really had them done up exactly the way I drew them. I was only 13 then. Some of the furnitures are still evident in Hutton Lane. Somehow my dad saved some when we lost our Jones Road home. The boss of the interior firm was so impressed with my handiwork, he told my dad that I should pursue this. And there you are, my career path was already written. And I was setting new standards with my brother’s double set of LEGO. I was building electric guitars, robots, buildings, and airports.

.

.

My first ambition was to be an Interior Designer. No doubt about it and I actually became one. My results was good enough to enter Bournemouth College in UK where I set my sights on but then, because my overall results weren’t impressive and funds were limited or because I didn’t exude enough trust and confidence, I didn’t get that privilege to. My sister went, but I was sent to work in the petrol kiosk we owned at Chain Ferry Butterworth instead. The reason why I was so fascinated about interior design is common sense. Without it, buildings look lifeless, just like how cosmetics could enhance a woman’s feature. I termed it ‘cosmetic architecture’. I too like fashion design and when I was working inside the architectural firm, I found myself sketching fashion and oogling at fashion magazines. My colleagues thought it crazy, not like my results in architecture was bad. I was outstanding. I even got distinctions in building construction in the second year, and not only architecture. That made my classmates from Singapore disenchanted with me. My concept was also plagiarised by a classmate in my final year design.

.

But my interest waned.

.

Because if you could have seen the firm I was working in, it was dull. My colleagues was also dull, and so was lunch. If you can feel how we need to stand in line at ‘Lau Pasat’ or the basement canteen of the building the firm was situated in, you’d understand me thoroughly. Our office was at Finlayson Green in the old Asia Insurance building now known as The Ascot. I began to appear work late. Sometimes I came up in the same lift as my boss, to the dismay of my colleagues. In fact I was propping myself not to sleep each time I was directed to work on something, and I always looked forward to my office sending me to the Building Control Department to submit proposals or do amendments. There, I got to talk to some of my Poly classmates and lecturers. It was a long walk across Stamford Road and Cecil Street no doubt but I enjoyed it. I can also drop by to MPH bookstore to entertain myself. My boss was kind. He looks a bit like Tony Curtis. In my four years, my paycheck doubly increases each year I was there. And he left it all to the draughtsmen who guided me. What I learnt from Kah Chong was his perseverance and dedication to his craft. Although I was annoyed with him once, he taught me how to measure buildings with our eyes on plan without the use of scales. My boss, Soo Seng gave me books on architecture to read. But he has an odd habit. He carries the type of school bag we use in primary, sort of a flipped open brown colored cardboard hard case. He was outstanding amongst the occupants of the same building and he moves as fast spending only two hours before noon and two hours after lunch in the office each day. At other times he’d be at the share market. And when his friends invited him for lunch, he will reduce their wishes to merely ‘Char Koay Teow’. I knew he was prudent but over excessive, but he’s nice. Really nice at least to me. No doubt about it. In office we also had Margaret who started off as apprentice whose uncle was Kah Chong and a clerk, can’t remember her name who used to speak like a melted cartoon each time her husband calls up. But I felt I was in the wrong job. I kept asking myself is this the life I want? Working for people and working eight hours a day for a mere pittance? And how long then could I save enough for a car or a home? The more I thought about it the more I felt distanced from this job.

.

.

After work, I will take the no. 176 bus and head to Dover Road. Where poly is situated. I was the gallant gentlemen in buses back then . Beit from office to school or from school back to home, never for once did I not give my seat to others. And the same few women whom we meet inside the buses would always glanced at me.

My classmates was fun too but because most of them went into National Service, our intermission is inundated with just that. Their life in the army is interesting to me, considering we don’t need to, over in Malaysia. And because I attended it part time, most of my classmates was working in different aspects of the construction field during the day and so we exchanged notes. I even received a note from a female classmate expressing her interest in me. But i wrote a note nicely back declining her advances. I can’t remember her name. But right after that, the entire gang of female classmates ignored me after that. I felt chastised but what can I do? I was not there in class to be liked anyway I thought to myself. I remembered Pulau Tekong as we went there for a camp at one time.

.

.

Outside office, Singapore life has it own fun. My daily commute from home in the East to office in the Central then to Poly in the West and then back again., makes me feel like a molecule in motion. There wasn’t MRT in those days but buses and taxis. So, depending on my schedule, it’s either one or the other. So it was year in year out (except for my regular diversion to Orchard Road to meet my friends and modelling) That became the addicted routine.

.

.

In Singapore I have three branches of friends. Colleagues, classmates, and casual ~ a bunch of outside friends which I got myself acquainted to. They are the most fun and treated me well as a friend and guest of Singapore. I must mention some of their names in particular- Desmond & Derek, Ronnie, Steven, Ivy, Connie, Janice. All in all I garnered about 100 friends. Roughly 25 a year not counting those women who always come knocking at the doors. Today there’s only one left. Her name is Ivy. A professional model turned talent scouter living in Hong Kong. They all left a big impression on me and of how naughty we were, sneaking out with Ronnie’s parent’s car in the middle of the night for supper and enjoyment, and even drove to Changi Airport from River Valley Road which was just completed. There we sat playing guitar in the stairwell. We went Sentosa island, we went swimming, went drinking, and not to mention the haggling and fights, and girls. When the cable car collapsed, we were just nearby. That was to me, the days of wine and roses. We always hung out at Orchard Rd, and I earned my badge as one of those Mc Donald boys back then at Liat Towers. Sometimes we’d meet at Yaohan Plaza or Paragon. Sometimes opposite Lucky Plaza to the sound of breakdancers performing their stunts to the beat of Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It!’ Those were the days when Richard Gere and Julia Roberts was the idol, starring in hit movies like ‘Pretty Woman’ and ‘The Officer and the Gentlemen’. Also it was the age of Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Boy George and George Michael with his famous hit ‘Careless Whisper’. Sometimes we hung out at Key West, or Shangrila’s ‘Xanadu’ Discotheque. If we are hungry, we’d go to Newton Circus for a nice bowl of Soup Kambing or to Katong, for the famous Hokkien Char Mee or Murtabak. A classmate of mine came to work in Singapore too, contacted me and for months, he stayed with me, at my 2nd aunties place in Joo Chiat until he decided to leave for Holland to be with his mom. We also had a pop band of our own and we used to go Fort Canning jamming and use the studios up there!

.

.

After a while, I went into modelling. That was my first exposure to backstabbing, treachery and deceit. Believe me, no one is no one’s friend. And as a model you are expected never to have friends because with friends, the agent finds it difficult to offer one but not the other. We were trained in stage makeup, catwalk, deportment, etiquette, I even got a certificate in that! We used to carry with us Liechner Foundarions and rouge sticks, a back with three colours of shoes, black, brown and a pair of sports shoes. In fact it was Edwin whom I got acquainted to who helped me a lot to understand the mechanics of modelling, he being seasoned in this. I helped him once out of a fight being a hot blooded man I was, and ended up nearly sodomised by him (or was it him wanting me to sodomise him?) in his room when he invited me home. His hands were all over me in the middle of the night when I was asleep and until I realised that, I quickly turned, face down and ran off from his home in the wee hours of the morning. never to see him again. If there is anything sweet about modeling life are the women, the wild encounters and night rendezvous. Some came knocking at the apartment doors of my auntie’s home.

.

.

But the beautiful most surprising thing about these guys I knew outside my workplace and school was, they all come from well-to-do families. I even get to visit Run Run Shaw’s personal viewing room at Shaw Towers once. But we didn’t connect well to sustain for those were the days devoid of internet.

My 2nd aunt was a shifting cultivator. When I first arrived in Singapore, I was staying with her in a rented apartment in Joo Chiat Rd together with her lived in boyfriend and her three girls and a boy who rented a room from her. Then she moved to Fidelio St, then to Bedok. By the time she wanted to shift again, I was at loggerheads with her and went to stay with my 3rd Ee at Hougang and then Tampines. But my 3rd Ee’s family wasn’t like my 2nd aunties. They were modest and I could feel a genuine warmth. My 3rd Ee works hard for a living having initially two daughters and an adopted son from the brother of my 3rd Tniau. They gradually bore one more son Kenneth and again another daughter named Alvina.

Out of the few places I ever lived, Fidelio Street was the most memorable. We moved into that scruffy one story old terrace which was once occupied by my 3rd Ee now becomes my 2nd auntie’s abode. As a tagger , she gave me a room at the very end which in those days I believe, was used by the maid. She didn’t inform me we are moving till very late and when I found myself there, she told me the whole family is going back to Penang for Chinese New Year, leaving her youngest daughter Janice (she works as an assistant manager at a fast food restaurant) here. I couldn’t leave because exams was nearing I think! Janice is today Dennis by the way, after having a legalised sex changed operation in Singapore. So alls good as I remembered the new bus route I needed to take and carried on my routine as usual. On the first night, I found myself alone after unlocking the gate, then the main door and back to my tiny ‘cell’. I cleaned myself up and rested on the double decker bed, with my right side face exactly facing the room door. Right where my toes are, the end of the bed, is the wardrobe with its side facing me and another wardrobe facing it which is the wall the entrance to the room sits. Thus, where my torso was till my legs, there was a retro sideboard with a low table top and a large mirror. Very fashionable in those days. There, I placed my powder, comb, hair gel, etc. As I was about to catch forty winks, I could hear the main door opened, then closes. By the way, between my room and the main door which is the family cum living is the air well and the bath stall we use with a separate water closet. But all’s good as I was expecting my cousin to be home. I could hear the footsteps walking in , but instead of stopping where her bedroom was, the steps came behind. Just next to my bedroom is the bath and the toilet so there was nothing unusual about that but then, the footsteps walked right in, into my room without even opening the door! And I was like “Oh my God!” And the steps went to the sideboard and I could feel the presence of someone fiddling with my things! I dare not open my eyes then because my bedroom door was a latched type where it can’t be opened from the outside! I closed my eyes tightly but with my toes fiddling with the blanket I was given which is at the end of the bed! When my hands could grab it, I pulled it up and hide under. And I was sweating profusely hoping the sound would end. It did not until I chanted some Buddhist mantras we were taught when young for protection, the usual ‘Amithaba’ that all Buddhists are acquainted with. Suddenly, my mind envisions a room full of distorted furniture. Then fades away and on the next scene it was total darkness! But out of nowhere, a door of light opens up! Only then did the whole nightmare disappears and my experience normalizes. I shared this with my cousin the next morning so we promised to wait for each other at the bus stop before we walked back together each evening for about a week or so, each of us taking turns to stake out as we bathed until my auntie is back. And many many years later, as we sit back with my cousins reminiscing the old days, my cousin Madeline who used to stay there before us recalled the time when her family was at the living watching tv when her adopted brother, then still young came in to inform them that an old lady with long hair is waving at him at the air well!

.

Anyway, I returned to Penang after four years, to escape the concrete and clay and the color grey, as how my lecturer Tay Cheow Bin puts it. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I felt I was in the wrong job. I kept asking myself is this the life I want? Working for people and working eight hours a day for a mere pittance? And how long then could I save enough for a car, or even a home? The more I thought about it the more I felt distanced from this job. Although I miss my friends. I couldn’t stay there illegally after giving up my work permit. Thus, I went to clear my taxes etc. My auntie was surprised with my decision telling me I should not have and how stupid I was to cancel that work permit I was carrying which is very difficult to obtain. She claimed it could be kept for other jobs. Who knows? But Poly life helped in a way and taught me alot about architecture and what I’ll be getting into if I decide to become an interior designer. Where I worked, the firm did not procure enough projects that would make anyone of us excited plus the laws then was strict, pardon the language. Still is, but I believe the degree of flexibility is much better now than it was before. When I left, Raffles City just opened up, and so is Marina Tower designed by John Portman. My dad aspires me to be an architect so he could be a developer. That did not happen..

I left Singapore for good.

.

.

((To be continued))

Mom was a Socialite

.

.

Mom was a socialite, but dad always insisted that meal time is when everybody sits together at the dining table. The irony was mom seldom sits at home lest to watch us eat our meals. She adores outside food and thus with all her ‘Tai Tai’ friends, they’d cluster together over meals in the most popular of Chinese Restaurants. And because we have lived-in maids, the maids are the ones who cook for us. They are simple dishes. Tau Eu Kay or Bak Cho, and Chai Tau Char. But we enjoyed it. Since young we relish what’s served to us. But she does however prepares herbal soups needed for us to grow. Our breakfast was usually liver with fresh ginger and soy sauce basked in hot water . Sometimes bread and butter with sugar sprinkles, fresh milk from the milkman, sometimes outside food and at times, boiled eggs with Milo. Except for my brother who is quite picky, otherwise we have no trouble adjusting ourselves, my sis and I. We too enjoyed the lavish dinners combing functions, celebrations and dinners my dad is required to attend. As children, we tagged along everywhere they go. That’s executive privilege. When dad goes to work, we usually remind him in sync with this daily recital “to be good, make a lot of money and come back soon.”

.

.

Mom was close to her three sisters too. Especially my Jee Ee (2nd aunty) who is somehow always around. My 2nd aunty hos a company which organises variety shows and events in Penang. Inside her stable were Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore film stars and singers. I think she is quite successful in what she does because most of her stars are the very famous ones of that era. So are the band boys she manages. And together with my mom, both of them comb night clubs and bars sought of after dinner ritual if ever they are obligated to attend. Their favourite sport, drink, dance and chat till they drop.

.

.

Thus in every aspect, our school life is inundated with our parents social preoccupations so much so that we hardly have evenings of quietness. My dad had his name inscribed on the plague in his alumni , attributed to the largest donor of his ex pupils association. He was also wearing many other social hats. That shophouse in Presgrave Street is our usual haunting ground. There, we played table tennis, mahjong games or simply scribble onto the blackboards. As children, we accompany them and we had our fun. Mom’s favorite sport is talking and there, she is at utmost ease, as she acquaints herself with members of dad’s club. She has her own alumni too. In that era, there wasn’t plenty of fun places to go to. And so I guess, that’s how our parents enjoyment is integrated with ours.A one stop fun club for families. Inside this association are also a full set of musical instruments my dad had donated. They have a band of their own which were regularly invited to perform at functions or religious ceremonies such as Ko Tai’s.

.

.

Back in those days, beit at Great World Park or New World, where my dad’s association band sometimes perform, there are amusement games, merry go rounds, ferris wheel, open air cinemas and ad hoc stage. And there are in the midst, candy peddlers, kacang putih sellers. The grounds are usually sandy and wet on rainy days. Where the bands play, they usually have a sort of battle where the best of bands is judged by the crowd they could garner and thus, in between Chinese Pop songs. they will also belt out Western numbers by the spurts.

.

.

My maternal grandma’s house was smacked right in the middle of town at Aboo Sittee Lane. And her tyre shop was in Prangin Road (now Lim Chwee Leong Road). Grandma was shrew. It could have been that after the war, she took over the business left by her deceased husband (my maternal grandfather) who was tortured and died in the hands of the Japanese. Or it could have been she managed that tyre shop for there were cousins and in laws in the business registration. Grandma used to ride on human powered trishaws, her grand Mercedes on three wheels, to and from work. Because of her, we had fun riding on these trishaws , to arrive at Goh Phar Teng where we’d have the best Koay Teow Thng, Hokkien Mee and Char Koay Teow. My grandma loves to cook Kiam Chye Ark, a salted vegetable soup broiled with shitake mushrooms and duck or chicken meat. That was my sister’s favourite soup. And from Kiam Chye Ark, the soup will transform into Chai Boey which from the same soup, leftover dishes were thrown in for the extra flavour and they’d relish and relish as they keep on adding the salted vegetables and soup in. Sometimes it takes them weeks to finish just this one dish. My sister is very close to my maternal grandma so, during those days, she sometimes stays with her. And together they’d go watch those Taiwan love movies and have a good cry. I really shook my head at this ‘paying to cry” movies. That is beyond my understanding because if dad brings us to movies or makan-makan (eat out), he’d usually order more than enough beit a Sunday at the Seafood restaurant at Tj Tokong or the cafe besides Cathay Cinema.

.

.

On weekends, dad sometimes play hosts to his foreign friends and relatives who visits. He usually brought them sight seeing beit to Batu Maung, the aquarium, Batu Feringghi beaches, seafood restaurants, Snake Temple, Kek Lok Si temple or the Reclining Buddha. As children, we follow where they go to, with our Singapore cousins (mom’s side) , if and when they are are down on holiday. That is because both my Ee’s had their homes in Singapore.

.

.

At home, we too had fun. When none of the relatives are around, we will play with our Lego set, Chinese or English chess, Happy Family, Ludo, Scrabble, you named it, we have it. Outside of the semi detached house, we’d cycle, roller skate ar play basketball all day. Dad had a net fixed at the balcony corner and we too have our own personal pond. It was a landscaped feature pool, but with a bit of imagination, it became our private wading pool. Actually it started as a fish pond where dad rears his Japanese carp. Later it became a tortoise pond after the hoards of tortoises we brought home found at the land in Jln Tengah. But we had them donated to Ket Lok Is temple years after because no one likes to regularly clean the pond. We also played kites, because our neighbours kids all play kites. One minute “s”, the next minute stamps. My sis, she reads fiction. Love fiction in particular. We also have a pet dog named ‘Poppy’. Such a lovable watch dog he was. The rest, dad rears following Poppy’s demise was just that, another dog. And everyday, the Indian Mee seller staying next door to our house will bring out his pushcart. There at the corner of our house entrance he ply his trade. And we had plates and plates of his mee because it was so delicious and tasty. At night, opposite our house at the corner of Jones Close, was a ‘Chai Diam Ma’ sort of s grocery cum provision shop. In front is a Rojak Seller (a kind of salad with fruits and condiments eaten with a sticky paste made of prawn). Behind our home, dad built a badminton court in no man’s land. There we had bouts of fun games and dad will invite all his friends to have a game or two. Dad was a sports freak. My brother and I followed him to watch football at the City stadium every time the Penang team plays. Dad himself excels in table tennis winning many times in inter-school alumni competitions and my sis herself was a hurdler also having strings of medals to take home. They are the only two in the family appearing in the trophy corner. And because our house was just a footwalk to Gurney Drive, we often spent our days and evenings there collecting seashells or had fun at the beach. Or just sit there by the pedestrian walkway to wile our time away. The best thing about our Jones Road house was, then, there weren’t much cars. We can literally follow the back path towards Pulau Tikus market and back. Pulau Tikus market is where everyone living in that vicinity buys their fresh produce from and also breakfast.

.

.

But there is this place which I was literally fond of. My dad’s estate in Jln Tengah. It’s actually a pig farm he literally built himself out from scratch with the help of some sub contractors but he bought the materials himself and built his first few sheds I guess to cost save. He does that on his own by just by following the guides he gain from books. My daddy is my hero. And I can safely say I inherited his talents.

The pig farm has only one access, with three water convolvulus and hyacinth ponds to reckon with beside two streams that ran across it. And in between these ponds are rows of rambutan and durian trees not to mention banana and pink fleshy guavas. The farm flanked a paddy field. Both rivers sprang a lot of surprises. From monitor lizards as huge as goats to the Malay farmer batting fresh water prawns with their bare fingers, it’s the kind of adventure every child needs. Because every farm owner is entitled a shotgun, dad does his hunting for pests that would invade the fruit trees or the chickens living inside the estate. Sometimes to get us excited, he’d plan for evening hunts which two, or three of my paternal cousins will follow, one was my 3rd Kor’s son who later worked with my dad in the motorcycle shop then the gas shop, and the other two was my 2nd Kor’s sons, whom after school just did some odd jobs with my dad, who in a way feeds them. The farm was minded by my Tua Kor (eldest sis of my dad) and her family. My Tua Kor Tniau literally works for my dad. He was entrusted to look after the pigs. They have a VERY big family of their own and most of them resided there under my dad’s expense. Sometimes in the evenings. the lorries from the wholesalers would arrive, ready to pick the pigs to the slaughter house. And they pay their dues in cash. It is one of the most lucrative business my dad has ever been in, but because labour was scarce, dad was also half hearted. Then came the government who uses the land acquisition act to acquire the land, on the pretext of building low cost houses. The never did. Forty years later, it was sold to Suiwah for RM40 per square feet. Chong Eu, then Chief Minister was made their group Chairman. Dad was aggrieved and seek them out for a compromise where we would build the low cost houses and sell it to the government. They refused so dad brought them to court. Nevertheless, we lost. But not without a fight. Thence, we sold the land to them at RM1.38.

Inside the farm was a tool shed dad built. There, we had fun making our own imaginary space-aged gadgets or toy guns we as children played with. We even attempted at making kites. And many a time, there was the encounters with cobras who loves to hibernate inside bathrooms. Even pythons. Back in those days the new road was practically non existent, so we use the old road bypassing Sungei Ara and there at the crossroads, dad will stop to buy Cucuk Kodoks and Ham Chin Peng (Teatime Sweets). My brother and I will always sit at the river bank fishing, making our fishing rods out of bamboo sticks. They may be small cat fishes but there we were, having a great time exploring. But those were the Sundays without mom. or sis who was with my maternal grandma on most weekends. It’s like a boys club, with wildlife as friends. We did not have much luck with the durians, mangosteens or rambutans because that wasn’t our core business. The whole place is like a fruit orchard, only that gnarls of pigs is what one hears from a distance. But when they do grow, there we are perching ourselves on the trunks relishing the fruits send from heaven. Of course there were some chickens, ducks and goose. Goose acts as deterrent to snakes.

.

.

With so much happening, I felt that as children, we are very blessed because then, there was a sense of family bonding. Until life took a turn when I was about 17 years of age. The misfortune taught me alot about face value and how most of daddy’s and mommy’s friends were literally just suckers. They suck the sweetness out of you like chewing gums, then spit you out once there is no more sweet left in you. And that is how I described their friends, even relatives for the matter. Because when my parents were left to borrow, only a handful came to the fore. And got thrashed by the rest. When news spread that we are no longer doing that fine, my sis was in England. Our Chinese New Year celebration, once a festive gala crowded with scores of people, even strangers are now empty spaces filled only with faint echoes of our once booming life. Back in those days, Chinese New Year was a grand affair. We had hoards of visitors, cards from minsters, and five lion dances to reckon with, from the societies that dad and mom are active in. My dad and mom was also politically active, both serves as chairman of the parties in the districts they were involved in. I was in my teens then but I was sensitive enough to understand what was happening. All the food and drinks that mom prepares were literally wasted. It was a traumatic experience for me. One that would remain etched inside my cerebral till this day because on every CNY, these memories will creep back. Unlike most Chinese, I may be the only one who will never enjoy Chinese New Year because it was a bit too traumatic for me.

.

.

.

((To be continued)).

We Didn’t Have It Good Then.

 

Part 1.

.

.

We didn’t have it good then. I mean there’s a high degree of separation between our childhood formative years and our adolescence period. We had it sweet in the beginning but after those years transcending till teenage and adulthood, it gets more bitter as time passes. Then came the plunge.

.

My sister was the more brilliant of us two so she had the privilege to go UK for her further studies whilst I was, at my usual naughty self chasing skirts. I was brilliant in my primary but I guess after a few cracks on the head (one of which I can still remember the blood streaming down my face in Wellesley Primary), I think it took a toll on certain cognitive areas which affected my studies. My strength lies in creativity, I’m highly imaginative, expressive, organised, and a little obsessed with details. I am a sucker for system and to design and arrange things. Other than that, I have poor learning skills and I was always caught crying everyday when it comes to homework.

.

My parents weren’t highly educated because they were the caught-in-between the Japanese Occupation and most of the time, they were busy thus, mom always relied on my 2nd Ee( mom’s sis) for the planning part. Mom has two sisters , the last (3rd Ee) was younger.

.

Then, we were rich. In 1966, dad struck lottery. 2nd prize in the social welfare and for a reward of $60K at that time, he saw his goal changed thus he became a businessman. We moved from Jockey Road to Jones Road after my paternal grandpa passed away.

.

Both mom and dad thence became instant celebrities, well at least to the Chinese fraternity. Mom was a socialite and so was dad. Dad’s was more of an obligation and duty. We had everything we wanted as a child. Dad bought us games and sports equipments. And taught us all he knew. He even had a basketball net installed at our balcony so we could have fun. Compared to my brother, I was the skilful one either in aiming, in roller skates, or in cycling. He dropped out from Kungfu classes. I did not. And I earned the privilege to demonstrate my skills at Han Chiang indoor stadium at a tender age of 13. And I learnt to net balls jumping on skates by myself. We had lived in amahs, drivers, gardeners, car wash boys. And though they were both Chinese educated, they sent my sis and I to English schools whilst my brother went to a Chinese one. I guess they did not have the luxury of time to even think nor worry about our future because things were going alright. Three cousins were staying with us and sort of help to guide us when my parents weren’t around. We also have our paternal grandmother around most of the time. And most evenings, we’d be tagging along to their numerous involvement in Chinese associations, clan, societies, temples that both my parents were involved in or one of their numerous dinners . My dad had a hall named after him in Presgrave Street, being the largest donor, and he was also Chairman of his alumni for years. They also organised regular getaways for their friends – picnics, bungalow stays, travels etc and as children, I must say we were made to feel wholesome. Dad was great with children and I’m proud to say that unlike his friends who usually attends functions alone, we are always there where he was. As for my mom, she can never get attached to kids.

Dad bought a 7 acre farm in Jalan Tengah where Sunshine Square now sits, and there he reared pigs for sale. We were then the second largest pig farmers in Penang, if not the biggest. And the returns was good. (He gave that up eventually because everyone was caught in the factory bug and he found it hard to find workers to clean the pig sties. Eventually the government acquired it for a pittance claiming they wanted to develop it for low cost housing. My dad counter offered to have it developed and share the earnings with the government but was declined. It went to court. We lost. That land never got developed. It was sold to Suiwah Group instead 40 years later with Chong Eu being made the Group chairman. The government bought ours for Rm1.38/sq foot but sold it at RM44/sq ft.

That farm was the place we spent most of our Sundays at, playing, catching fishes, perching on rambutan trees etc. We had our fun whilst dad took care of his itenary and stuffs. We also owned a land in Telok Kumbar, a house in Jalan Bunga Pudak, Tj Bungah. At that time, we were living in Jones Road. The home is still there after we sold it and the owner till today, did not change the facade.

Mom never need to cook for us because we have amahs so all she does was to order them around. She enjoys that Tai Tai lifestyle. Mom hardly stayed home. She chooses to eat outside everyday and every meal if possible. So between both of them, there’s so much going on. And of course her duty of fetching us home from school which left me stranded a few times. It never happened to my sister nor my brother. I was the unlucky one I guess. We owned a Gas Shop in Hutton Lane where dad’s trading company was also based, a motorcycle dealer shop in Jln Sungei Ujong, a petrol kiosk in Chain Ferry , Butterworth, and a beauty perm parlour at Kinta Lane. Dad even had his name on his own shampoo brand called ‘Lebon’ and we were then, sole distributors for Misasa Cosmetics. Each of these companies were helmed by their trusted friends. But little did it occur to them that fate would take a down turn. How? I don’t know. We were too naive to understand but as children, we were caught in the plethora of the storm.

In between their numerous fights, I could roughly gather that dad was promiscuous. But news in later years as gathered from cousins also claim that my mom also had her fair share of flings. During one fight, my grandma was also ploughed with a flower pot meant for my dad’s head when she tried to mediate. And we cried and cried. Mom also dragged us to follow her at times because she received tips of my dad’s whereabouts but it turned out to be false news. I guess she spent a lot of her money hiring investigators to trail him. One day, mom decided to leave, taking my sis and younger brother along with her. But left me with my dad. That wasn’t the time when they officially moved. When they officially moved out from Jones Road, I was in Singapore.

.

Back to when chao truly happened, my sister was forced to return and so was my 2nd auntie’s daughter, both of them in UK. This eldest cousin of mine from my 2nd aunt, my parents help support them for awhile because my 2nd aunties husband, my 2nd Tniau, suffered a misfortune in his own investments. Then, he was GM of a big Singapore company. In fact he was caught first and my dad had to sell off the Jalan Bunga Pudak house to help him. (As how my dad puts it to me in later years, he succumbed to my mom’s pressure and my 2nd auntie kneeling and begging him for help) He also blames my mom for foiling his bid to get Honda motorcycle dealership direct from Japan when they came over because our sales outclass Boon Siews.) That enrages my granduncle very much because my grand uncle trusted my dad alot. My 2nd Tniau was brilliant, but succumbed to ambition and he was later sued for criminal breach of trust, which landed him in Changi Prison for 3 1/2 years. But this 2nd aunty of mine was quite enterprising in a small way even as a ‘Tai Tai’, like my mom is. Before her husband’s fate, she herself had a thriving event planning company and also serves as a ‘pop-band manager’. She organizes live appearances and performances for the rising stars of Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan music and film industries to perform in Penang. That was in the heydays and we as kids get to see these shows for free and had dinners and lunches with them. One of the stars wanted to bring me to Hong Kong but my parents thought I was too young to follow. I guess you could say my aunt’s family and ours was quite close at that time. And so, she ended up having to feed her three daughters in a rented apartment in Singapore and her eldest daughter has to start working to help feed their family. They lost their Green Lane house (Singapore). Eventually her two daughters grew up and flew with SIA till today, as senior flight stewardesses and the last, once Janice, now Dennis, had her sex changed, legally in Singapore. And so it was like this, ever since young, it was party, party and party for us.

.

And I was a dandy. After my MCE, I was asked to help in the petrol station. I rode my brother’s bike there everyday (for two years? or so) and everyday without fail, I fooled around after coming back home. Because then, I only have eyes for women and I was dead bored at the petrol kiosk. The petrol business and gas shop was in my mom’s name. And there I was, in the midst, growing fond of a woman a year older than me, who came from a gloriously rich background from Kangar. At that time, as I found out, they were the second richest family after the Kuoks in Kangar. In between, I made trips to her hometown in Perlis, stayed in her home, and she also bunked in with me once, in Penang. Before that, there were other attachments but not like this one. The next minute I knew, her parents were visiting our place. Mom didn’t like that thought I think because both of us were very young. And so I thought in later years, she arranged with my 2nd auntie to have me sent over to Singapore, to get me away from this girl, got me a job in an architectural firm and also a place in Poly. So there I landed. I was worried for myself and asked my dad if I really need to go Singapore? He said “you better go” I guess being influenced by my mom about my attachment with that girl from Kangar. Years later when I was back, this girl I was subtly stopped from seeing passed away at 22. If I could remember clearly, from brain tumour. Those days when there was no internet, we literally corresponded and anticipate the slow mails. At one time it stopped. But little did I suspect anything amiss. I did go back to her parents holiday home at Ooi Thiam Siew Rd when my days in Singapore was over, but it was all totally dark. Neither did I suspect anything because people do move. It was only one fine day at the office as I was flipping the days newspaper did I come across her obituary which was already a year old.

.

Eventually, after my parents separated (but not legally, because my dad didn’t sign the papers), dad moved to Hutton Lane in the gas shop we owned, with my 3rd Kor’s entire family, whose son worked for us. Dad paid for their bills even whilst his son gets his salary. My dad was always kind to his own poor siblings. whilst my mom moved to my grandma’s home in Barrack Road. I wasn’t with them when they moved and thus I didn’t have the privilege to take what was mine. At first my dad moved there too but was chased out by my mom after my Tua Ku allegedly claims my dad brought home a woman. Our family home in Jones Road was already sold then. And so are the rest of his properties except for the petrol kiosk and gas shop which was registered under mom’s name. My mom went to manage my grandma’s tyre shop in Prangin Road, after my grandma died. Unfortunately, my mom’s siblings were all vultures to a fault. No one wants to get involved in the running, but everybody wanted their share. Mom was named to manage the business because my grandma doesn’t trust her second daughter, my 2nd Ee. My mom was a kind soul and she never refuses anyone in need. And so her siblings depleted my grandmas savings and my mom, in need of cash, siphoned it from the petrol station which eventually made us lose the license. Dad was enraged. But she allowed my dad to operate the gas shop in her name. That was also the very last business we ever had. And moved my brother to work with him because he failed in his studies. Eventually they had my name and my brothers name inside the company but that was because my 3rd Kor’s son and his wife made a proposal to invest and dad agreed. After some years when they decided to venture on their own, my sis told my dad to relook at the accounts and that was when discrepancies were found. My cousin’s wife begged for mercy and eventually my 3rd Kor’s entire family moved out , so the company was again transferred back and remained with us. When dad passed away, my mom gave the key to the safe and running of the business to my brother because he was already working there with him and knew the ins and outs. I was caught in my own problems and gave my share in the company to my sis in law. That company was a disaster and day by day, I saw my dad continuously ran short of funds that he needed to borrow. Not like there wasn’t business and his overheads was low. I suspected something amiss and not until a year and a half later did I manage to convince him to look into his accounts and discovered that the company was actually making money! But that he spent it all on his gambling! He spends roughly RM6K per week on four digits alone. So before I left the company, I updated his accounts till the day I left. I liase with his accountant and they were all amused at my hurried effort. Apparently, dad did not update his income taxes for more than 15 years. The rest, I thought, was for my brother to worry about. I devised a plan for him to settle the sum owed and the loans he borrowed from. In three years, he’d be doing well and so I hoped. He agreed. The money came, his debts settled and as fate takes its toll, a few months later, he passed away. Somehow when his loan was settled as I sat there talking to the lenders, I could see a relive in him like a heavy burden came off his shoulder. But he didn’t live the day to see a better future before him.

.

And so there I was, living with my 2nd auntie in Singapore whilst shuffling day and night working in an architectural firm, and nighttime, Poly. After some disagreements with her, a year or to later, I moved in with my 3rd Ee. I guess mom had a little arrangement with my aunties then but as for my own expenses, sometimes it didn’t come on time and I had to borrow money from my classmates, for my daily living. Mom ran grandma’s business and when coffers depleted, she borrowed alot to keep us going and trying her luck at the one-armed bandits at the Chinese Merchants Club. She struck twice but being greedy, she gave everything back. On her first strike, she let me keep her money. We convinced her to buy a home. But only two days after, what went into my account came out and returned to the one arm bandit. On her second strike, she let my sis kept her money. My sis didn’t return her. And so I thought it better to fend for myself when mom was in her darkest of days. What I got from the architectural firm was mere pittance, as I was only an apprentice then. So I went into modelling for some extra cash. Not that I wanted it, but I needed it. Also, I thought I was young, energetic and able and thus, I can exploit my looks to good use and that helps keep me alive so that I do not need to further burden my mom. Four years I stayed in Singapore, and came back to Penang in 84.

.

.

(To be continued)